I will not be afraid.

Stone-arrows-mark-the-Camino

Last night I finished reading the final pages of  The Camino Letters by Julie Kirkpatrick. There is a lot that I could, and probably will eventually say about this book. About how I came to know about it and read it. About the comfort and affirmation that I have found in its pages.  Much like Julie’s journey, I feel like my finding of this book was not just by chance. I feel as though I have been walking toward this book, mindfully, for the last year – before it was ever even published. And in other ways, I’ve probably been walking toward this book, unknowingly, for a lifetime – being slowly prepared and made ready for what I would find here.

The Camino Letters is really just about a woman who goes for a long walk. Okay, maybe not quite. Maybe it’s more about a woman who goes for a long walk and invites her community of friends to come with her, in the form of tasks that they give her, one for each day. Tasks that, looking back, I’m sure just look like gifts. At least from my vantage point.

It’s about stepping out of the familiar. It’s about being brave. Being honest – with self, with others. It’s about going to the places that scare you. It’s about discovering just how strong you really are. It’s about humility. It’s about beauty. Hope. Tears. Laughter. Strangers. Belonging. Acceptance. Clarity. Death. Life. It’s about making a choice to truly live your life. To not let pain or fear or work or pride hold you in a place that will harm you. It’s about a woman who goes for a long walk and finds herself in a different place than where she started from.

That may just be skimming the surface.

I met Julie, briefly, this past summer. She was promoting The Camino Letters at an art show in a mutual friends garden. That friend had been telling me about the book for months, as it was being written. I was already intrigued and planning to read it when it came out. But I’ll never forget my conversation with Julie under the hot sun in Brian’s garden that afternoon. I remember her face as she talked about the book. I remember the pure joy and excitement that poured out of her as she told me, a stranger in a garden, about how that long walk changed her life. I remember being struck by her honesty, her vulnerability. I remember buzzing as I walked away…her aliveness was contagious.

I took my time in reading this book. I tried to walk it like a pilgrimage. Taking time to breathe, to look around, to be present in the midst of it. In so many ways it’s a simple thing – a collection of letters written to friends, a long walk in a new place…

Yes. In so many ways it’s a simple thing. Opening our eyes. Breathing deep. Living truthfully, gratefully, courageously. Trusting the ones who love us. Trusting that the journey will bring us exactly what we need. Trusting that this life is bigger, richer, deeper, than we’ve ever allowed ourselves to know.

We’re all just out on a long walk, after all. Moving, learning, growing, one step at a time…

I am tired of being afraid of being known. And so I have decided here, on this path, that I will no longer hide myself, or morph myself, or have myself sucked out of me. I will be more as I have been here. I will not be afraid.

So what that I have crazy things happening in my life that make me feel sometimes that I am losing my mind? Am I the only one? I can’t be. Gosh, I hope not. Because really, it is so strange and exciting and perfect and wonderful. I want to shout from the top of a mountain, “Look, look, open your eyes! Look at what is there!” There is so, so much more to us than we allow.


– The Camino Letters, pg. 217

One Response to I will not be afraid.
  1. Julie Kirkpatrick

    Thank you for these words, dear stranger. Did I already say thank you? Thank you again (and again)

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